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photo © teamWorx/Armin Franzen

What would you prefer? Solitary confinement with non-stop glaring neon lights, American pop tunes at full blast, and sudden, senseless beatings? Or to be locked up next to a fellow prisoner who’ll rat on you for a Big Mac? Perhaps the worst is having to kill your only friend, even if it is only a lizard... Based on the true story of the German Turk Murat Kurnaz, who spent a total of five years as a U.S. prisoner in Afghanistan and Guantánamo, FIVE YEARS is an unflinching chronicle of unimaginable abuse and a duel between two iron-willed personalities. The accused: Kurnaz, who wanted to give meaning to his life by turning to Islam and going on a pilgrimage to Pakistan right after 9/11. The accuser: U.S. government interrogation specialist Holford, who pulls all the stops of manipulation and fear, and whose main goal is to obtain a confession from Kurnaz. But Kurnaz can’t confess; he’s innocent.

Guantanamo, the U. S. Marine base on Cuba with a prison for alleged Islamist terrorists, has become a synonym of injustice and inhumanity. Stefan Schaller crafts an internationally appealing production that is faithful to the best-selling book by Murat Kurnaz, “Five Years of My Life. An Innocent Man in Guantanamo.” Sascha Alexander Geršak plays Murat Kurnaz with moving authenticity in this compassionate and powerful political film, which explores one of the darkest chapters in the US war on terror.

Stefan Schaller was born in Munich in 1982. After completing his secondary education, he studied Politics and Theater in Munich. A stay in Central America was followed by practical experience in the field of cinema as a script developer for Boje Buck Produktion in Berlin. Schaller began studying Theatrical Direction at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy in 2005. HANDS OFF MISSISSIPPI, for which he wrote the screenplay, was awarded both the Bavarian as well as the German Film Award for Best Children’s Film. In 2008 his mid-length film BÖSE BILDER was honored with the renowned Max Ophüls Award. In 2009 his short film JEDEM DAS SEINE was screened in the Perspectives German Cinema sidebar at the Berlin Film Festival.
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2012
Director Stefan Schaller
Screenplay Stefan Schaller
Cinematography Armin Franzen
Cast Sascha Alexander Geršak, Ben Miles
Producers Jochen Laube, Fabian Maubach, Joseph M'Barek
Production Company teamWorx Television & Film/Ludwigsburg, in co-production with Studio Babelsberg, cine plus Filmproduktion, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg
Length 95 min
Format DCP, color, cs
Original Version
 English, German
Subtitled Version English
Festivals Max Ophühls Festival Saarbrücken 2013, Rotterdam 2013, JeonJu 2013, Stockholm 2013, Camerimage 2013
With backing from MFG Baden-Württemberg, Nordmedia, German Federal Film Board, German Federal Film Fund
German Distributor Zorro Film/Munich

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